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A management information system (MIS) it is system which is required to provide organizations with information to enable them to run efficiently and smoothly. The management information system is a system which involves resources which are threefold: people, technology, and the information. Management information systems are unique in that they enable one to be able to analyze operational activities within institutions and organizations.
Information systems play a crucial role in the management of any contemporary enterprise such as a small, medium or large organization; a profit making or a social service set up; a public or private sector undertaking; a manufacturing or a service organization; a local or a global corporation; and an upcoming or established business house.
Just as the case is within the organization which is under consideration, the fast changing scene of liberalization, competition and globalization combined with an emphasis on quality, timeliness, innovation, customer orientation and efficiency puts a premium on accurate, superfast and timely dissemination of information across the globe. The unprecedented developments in computing and communication technologies have indeed made such demands translatable into realizable goals.
Thus, a large portion of the world population has its stake in information systems. Invariably such systems ate computer based. This informs the reason for establishing the need to revamp the already existing structures within the organization. The progress of this project will be based on a simple definition of a management information system (MIS) which would be: a computer based system that provides flexible and speedy access to accurate data.
Such a definition would suit any personal, professional, organizational, national or global information system and the organization at hand. Obviously, the organizational information systems – those pertaining to the planning, operation and control of an enterprise – are the most important amongst these.
Management information system in this case will refer primarily to such organizational information systems which are generally large sophisticated, structured, and dynamically evolving and of immense commercial value. Management information systems have three sub – components – management, information, and systems – together bring to focus clearly and effectively:
- Management emphasizing the ultimate use of such information systems for managerial decision making rather than merely stressing on technology.
- Information highlighting on processed data rather than raw data and in the context in which it is used by managers and other end users.
- Systems emphasizing a fair degree of integration and a holistic view.
In this case we are going to be evaluating a given organization. There are five major steps which one needs to evaluate before embarking on some various aspects. These include the following;
5. Evaluation These steps will provide a framework upon which one will be able to monitor progress and put in necessary measures to ensure that the required steps are put into accomplished. First and foremost, it is important for one to establish the basis for the stated project.
This enables one to determine the set goals and the objectives with the view of realizing them effectively. These goals will be defined into functions which will be achieved. Consequently one will be able to design a system which will ensure that the objectives are or have been realized. Implementation will ensure that the plan is worked out. Thus one will be able to ensure that the details which have been set have been realized and accomplished in the recommended fashion.
Classification of management systems
Another area that must be carefully understood in this project is the distinction between the scope of the applications and the information support needed by the application. Irrespective of the nature of the organization and its size, business applications would fall into one of the four categories – office automation, transaction processing, decision support and executive support systems. The analysis and design should clearly distinguish between these systems before developing and implementing the application to support such systems.
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The five basic systems development guidelines which will be used will include the following;
- Develop a plan. Prepare an overall project plan and stick to it. Complete tasks in a logical sequence. Develop a clear set of ground rules and be sure that everyone on the team understands them clearly.
- Involve users and clearly listen to them. Ensure that users are involved in the development process, especially when identifying and modelling system requirements. When you interact with users, listen closely to what they are saying.
- Use project management tools and techniques. Try to keep the project on track and avoid surprises. Create a reasonable number of checkpoints – too many can become burdensome, but too few will not provide adequate control.
- Develop accurate cost and benefit information. Managers need to know the cost of developing and operating a system, and the value of benefits it will provide accurate, realistic costs and benefit estimates, and update them as necessary
- Remain flexible. Be flexible within the framework of your plan. Systems development is a dynamic process, and overlap often exists among tasks. The ability to react quickly is especially important when you are working on a system that must be developed rapidly.
The typical management information systems that will be in operation in this organization can be classified in many ways. One classification is based on the functional disciplines of management like, marketing, and finance.
It is possible to discuss at length a number of management information systems that can be built to assist each of the functional areas of management. Today, a number of systems which are already in place and many users already have a taste off one or many of the systems in various functional management areas.
Management information systems are built for specific applications for use by an identified organization. Hence, understanding the organization – its primary goals and objectives, structure, dynamics, scale of operation, culture, tradition, social setting, level off competition, value system, and finally, the environment under which the organization is operating – plays a key role in the successful implementation of contemporary corporate information systems.
Such an understanding is likely to supplement the technical soundness of the systems that are being designed. When establishing where one is going to establish the Management information systems, it is fundamental to gauge the organization from a series of attributes that characterize modern organizations;
- Hierarchy and clear definition of roles.
- Standard operating systems and procedures
- Formal structure
- Fair and transparent measures of performance and evaluation schemes
- Legal framework to reconcile differences
- Professional management
- Continuity of operation
- Social responsibility
Such an understanding is a prerequisite before one launches the design of any meaningful information system intended to serve an organization which is a formal corporate entity.
Data and information systems
With so many information systems in daily use and access between the common man most people understand and appreciate that data is relatively raw and information is a refined form of data which is more useful for human understanding and decision processes. The exact form of refinement will vary according to the needs and the nature of applications. Information systems will therefore concentrate on information and not merely on data.
From this perspective, there are some basic characteristics of data that must be kept in mind. The data must be accurate, timely, and relevant. Several other attributes such as reliability, source of data, consistency over time, value aspects including threat to individuals, society and to the world at large, privacy, protection of intellectual property, and many others are important, yet are specific to some applications only.
Information systems are primary vehicles that implement these systems and procedures in a fast, flexible and cost effective manner. Obviously, these systems are much more than mere computer programs. They should faithfully portray the existing formal systems, though many of them might not have been well documented.
Many formal systems have been internalized by the operating personnel, who do not see the necessity of documenting them formally. During the transition from manual systems to computer based system, they have to be communicated faithfully to the analyst so that he in turn can implement the systems and procedures correctly.
Any such processes where the systems had been running relatively efficiently without a documented set of systems and procedures, poses a number of difficulties for the analyst who is implementing the computerized system. One of the reasons that many computerization efforts may not yield spectacular results may be the lack of such clearly understood and well documented systems and procedures.
Some organizations have been able to benefit significantly by information systems because of the existence of standard operating systems because of the existence of standard operating procedures for decades. In this case, as a consultant one must be prepared to face this dual challenge of establishing a system, documenting the existing and or the proposed system, and then implementing a computerized system that translates the manual system into a computer based system.
The information systems in this case will be used to provide evaluation information like performance data, production data, defective data, and many others which are used to develop incentive and bonus information schemes for employees. Information systems will reflect this aspect by way of providing insight into the social benefits of the organization.
With small additional efforts in recording keeping, the social contribution of the organization can be quantified and presented to the powers that be in a systematic manner. This would help the organization to operate in a peaceful and trouble free manner without too much interference from the local pressure groups. In addition, socially enlightened organizations will also enjoy additional inner strength due to high motivational levels of the employees.
This system will also have to be consistent with the professional practices of business including business ethics, which is characteristic of professional managers. These professional do vary in their outlook, cultural background and ethical attitudes though everyone subscribes to a set of core ethical practices.
Some professional managers believe more in oral communication than in written and are less enthusiastic about keeping records. Yet others, who are more accustomed to written communications, may be more formal and may insist on formal record for every detail and activity. Information systems have to be designed keeping in view such intrinsic differences among professional managers and adapt to such varying decision styles of professional managers.
In conclusion, systems thinking can also help keep managers focused on the overall goals and operations of a business. It encourages them to consider the entire system, not only their specific subsystem, when solving problems and making decisions. A satisfactory solution for one subsystem or business aspect might be inadequate for the entire organization.
For example when the sales department creates a Website to take online customer orders, it automates a formerly labor – intensive activity of the sales subsystem. This saves cost. However, increased orders may cause under stocking of finished goods. With systems thinking, improving the sales process could also improve other company organizational processes.
Without systems thinking, managers from other departments are not involved in the decision, so they do not benefit. It is worth noting that the information systems can only carry out instructions that humans give them. Management information systems can process information or data accurately at far greater speeds that people can, yet they are limited in many respects – most importantly, they lack common sense. However, combining the strengths of these systems with human strengths creates synergy.
Laudon, Kenneth C., Jane Price Laudon and Mary Elizabeth Brabston. Management information systems: Managing the digital firm. 3rd. Toronto: Pearson Education Canada Inc., 2007.
Sadagopan, S. Management Information Systems. New Delhi: PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd, 2004.
Shelly, Gary B. and Harry Rosenblatt. Systems Analysis and Design. California: Cengage Learning, 2011.